"Fear Itself" is the eighteenth episode of the Teen Titans series and the fifth episode of Season 2.
When Beast Boy rents a scary film for the Titans to watch at Movie Night, strange things start to happen and one by one each of the Titans start to disappear, but the question the remaining Titans are wondering is; Who is behind all of this?
The episode begins with an attack going down at the video store. The villain responsible is an obese fanboy geek who calls himself Control Freak armed with a customized TV remote capable of animating anything its aimed at into ferocious monsters with the push of a button. The Teen Titans arrive and manage to hold their ground against Control Freak's monsters (except for Cyborg who spends the entire second half of the battle vomiting candy that Control Freak animated in a trash can outside). When the monsters begin surrounding the Titans, Robin throws his birdarangs at the fire sprinklers, defeating the monsters by short circuiting anything electronic, and dampening anything made of cardboard, as they were all animated video monitors or cardboard standees. After the fight, Beast Boy digs out of the mess and finds a famous, and by reputation, very frightening horror movie, Wicked Scary, and presents it to the team back at the tower. After Robin secures Control Freak's remote in the evidence room and gets back up to the living room, Beast Boy explains the notorious reputation of the movie. Apparently, by legend, its suppose to be "cursed". The movie turns out to be extremely frightening, so much in fact that even a hard-boiled mind such as Raven finds herself unnerved. But she refuses to admit it to the others.
Later that night, the Titans hear a scream coming from the living room. Robin notes that it sounded like the scream they heard from the movie, but Starfire points out that nobody left the TV on and the movie is sitting in its box on the coffee table. And out of nowhere, all the lights go out. Robin remembers the thunderstorm outside and speculates that it probably tripped a circuit breaker. At that moment, a creepy tentacle gropes his shoulder and frightens everyone except him, who dismisses it as a good prank from Beast Boy. However, Beast Boy is still in his human form, and points to what that tentacle belongs to; the monster from the movie, ready to devour them all.
The Titans try to hold their ground, but the beast's strength is in paramount, and things go from bad to worse when Raven's powers don't work. Things appear grim until all of a sudden, the creature vanishes just as mysteriously as it arrived. The Titans try to comprehend what just happened. Robin speculates that Control Freak escaped from jail and came to the Tower to get his remote back and take his revenge. But Beast Boy immediately concludes that the movie's legend of a curse is true. Watching it opened a portal to another plain of existence to which the monster emerged from. Now that it's on the loose in the tower, it's going to kill them all, starting with Beast Boy, the "good-looking comic relief guy". Robin suggests they all split up and search the tower to get to the bottom of the mystery, but Beast Boy follows his common knowledge of any and all horror concepts and dismisses it as a bad idea, claiming that the monster will hunt them down one at a time.
Along the course of this grim investigation, Beast Boy keeps jibbing Raven that she is afraid, which she hotly denies. But each time she says so, something grim occurs, such as Beast Boy being right about the demise of the comic relief guy first. He is dragged into a dark doorway by shadowy tentacles and vanishes. The Titans try to save Beast Boy, but only open the door to the evidence room. Robin notices that Control Freak's remote is exactly where he left it and suspects that Control Freak has nothing to do with what's been happening. After realizing that this whole thing is based on fear, Robin comes to a conclusion involving the movie, the monster, and Raven's powers. But before he can say who's behind it all, he is ensnared by the same shadowy tentacles that took Beast Boy and dragged into a the wall before Starfire, Raven, and Cyborg can save him. Cyborg frustratingly punches the wall and smashes a giant hole through it, revealing nothing but the hallway on the other side. Cyborg, Starfire and Raven are left in despair from not knowing what Robin was about to say.
Cyborg and the girls search the living room again, but still no trace of Robin or Beast Boy. Cyborg claims they've looked everywhere for them, to which Raven replies "Almost everywhere". Cyborg and Starfire freeze with fear on account of knowing exactly where they still haven't searched: The basement. As the remaining Titans begin searching, Starfire begins blasting the floor when she sees something scurrying. Raven thinks it's just a few rats, but what Starfire points to on the girders above are not rats. A massive horde of rat-like monsters appear and the Titans race back to the stairs. They almost make it, but Starfire is swarmed by the rat monsters and sinks into the floor. By the time Cyborg comes for her, she is completely submerged and the pile completely disappears with her along with it. With only Cyborg and Raven remaining, Cyborg concludes that there's nothing they can do for her now. Their only remaining course of action is to find a way out of the tower and come back with help. They make it back to the top of the stairs and Raven goes ahead of him. However, Cyborg completely freezes with fear. Raven asks if he could light the way, but turns around to see that Cyborg has vanished without a trace. All there is in the dark empty corridor behind her is a huge, black, pterodactyl monster flying straight for her. Raven races to the elevator and manages to narrowly escape the monsters deadly jaws. But her relief is cut short when the elevator fills with black ooze, which spills out into the living room. Now totally alone, she is beset by all the horrifying monsters she's encountered made out of pure darkness, including wolf-bird like creature emerging from the window. Cornered, she admits that she truly is afraid. Raven yells "Azarath Metrion Zinthos" and releases an energy wave that absorbs all the creatures. The energy wave forms into the huge pterodactyl beast that emerges right outside above the tower and roars just before dissipating and Raven passes out with black electricity flickering around her.
She wakes up to see that her friends are all okay. Robin explains that there never was any danger, because the monsters they were seeing were never real. Raven knew she was afraid. But when she wouldn't talk about it, her powers manifested into creatures of her deepest fears. When Raven finally accepted her fear, she regained control of it. The Titans realize and understand that Raven had accidentally created the monsters out of her denying her fear and Raven sheepishly apologizes. As the sun rises, the Titans decide to catch some sleep over the night's events. Beast Boy then tells Raven that her haunted house was far more terrifying than the movie they watched, and asks if her if she would want to do this again for Halloween, to which she proudly says "I'm afraid not."
- Control Freak (First appearance)
- Raven's Fear Monsters (First appearance: death)
- Wicked Scary Monster (First appearance: death)
- Puppet King (Cameo; body and remote)
- Mad Mod (Cameo: statue)
- Slade (Cameo; mask)
- Overload (Cameo: chip)
- Horror Movie Actress (Only appearance)
- Store Clerk (Only appearance)
- Written by:
- Directed by:
- Also featuring:
- Many of the other monsters share a striking resemblance to the monsters in "Nevermore", which is almost a dead giveaway that Raven is somehow responsible for them (if you noticed the creatures' eyes).
- The counter girl working at the video store resembles Sarah Simms, Cyborg's love interest from the Teen Titans Go! comics.
- It's a little impressive how Robin figured out the full extent of Raven's powers even though Raven rarely talks about the true nature of her powers and how they work.
- Cyborg evidently has an incredibly sensitive stomach when it comes to sweets, considering a couple of handfuls of Control Freak's candy henchmen were enough to send him into a trash can outside the store for the entire second half of the battle.
- The episode title is derived from the words in President Franklin Roosevelt's famous speech, "There is nothing to fear but... fear itself." This quote and the title is also a possible reference to a line spoken by Scarecrow from the 2005 film Batman Begins, though this episode was released in 2004.
- This is Control Freak's first appearance.
- There are several articles from previous episodes stored in the evidence room.
- "Final Exam": A green bear teddy bear used by Gizmo to distract the Titans
- "Switched": Puppet King, his remote and the Titan figurines
- "The Sum of His Parts": A robotic face
- "Masks": 3 colored microchips
- "Deep Six": A broken trident weapon from Trident
- "Car Trouble": A chip that looks like Overload
- "How Long is Forever?": The Clock of Eternity
- Other items include: Slade's mask, Robot Commandos' mask, Mumbo's hat, a bust of Mad Mod, Gizmo's electronic harness
- As the "evil fanboy" he is, Control Freak makes several obvious references to well-known movie franchises, including:
- Star Trek, particularly Star Trek V and the TV episode "Trouble with Tribbles"
- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, when Control Freak quotes a line spoken by Yoda: "You will be... you will be."
- His personal introduction is reminiscent of the way Darkwing Duck introduces himself.
- The scenes of the wicked scary monster attacks are reminiscent of classic horror movies. The Titans themselves play archetypes of horror characters:
- Beast Boy is the funny knowledgeable movie geek similar to Randy Meeks in the Scream series. He is the first to get taken by the monster.
- Robin is the Detective similar to Arbogast in the movie Psycho. Like Arbogast, he is the second victim, who is taken when he was about to disclose important information.
- Starfire is the Cheerleader archetype similar to many minor female characters whom get scared easily. She is the third to be taken.
- Cyborg is the Jock archetype, a tough person in his field, but on the same level as the cheerleader in terms of bodycount. He is the last one to get taken by the monster.
- Raven is the Final Girl, the sole remaining female survivor left to figure out how to defeat the monster. In a surprising twist, she is also the Antagonist, since the monsters were her powers expressing her bottled fear.
- When Raven gets out of the elevator, the dark liquid that flows out of it as the doors open is a reference to Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror film The Shining.
- The monsters revealed to be part of Raven's mind is reminiscent of the following horror flicks, The Fiend Without a Face, and The Forbidden Planet. Both monsters were created by a person's mind. This is also a reference to a monster called Hastur, who is actually Cthulhu's half brother, both Cthulhu and Hastur were used by the famous American Horror story author: H.P. Lovecraft; however, Hastur was originally created by another, American Horror story author known as: Ambrose Bierce.
- The movie that Control Freak rages about not being in stock has a picture that resembles Beast Boy's early portrayal as an alien in a Star Trek knock off film "Space Trek 2020" back in the comics.
- The Roar Sound Effect where Beast Boy Transforms into a Tyrannosaurus Rex is the same roar sound effect used for Bowser from Super Mario in the Nintendo 64 Games like in Mario Kart 64. The Roar Sound Effect was also used in "Things Change".
- The Crash Sound Effect from Thomas the Tank Engine where Beast Boy transformed in a Bull when he charges toward the one of Control Freak's Monster was used.
- The samurai cardboard standee monster appears to hold its weapon only on its left hand. However, as Robin slices it in half, the weapon switches to its right hand.
- When Beast Boy turns into a T-Rex and scares the bookshelf, it drops all its books. However, in the next shot, the books have returned to its shelves. This might have been for comedic effect to portray a cartoonish "terrified" expression.
- After Robin threw and sliced his birdarangs at all the fire sprinkler heads as they sprayed water around the video rental store, Raven was quickly not wearing her hood.
- As Robin folds his arms in displeasure from Beast Boy's "emergency call", the left portion of his red vest was colored green instead.
- When Beast Boy is getting all scared about splitting up and is telling the other Titans what the monster does, he pulls Raven's hood off, but she never put it on.
- The Puppet King's controller is seen in the evidence locker, but it was previously destroyed in "Switched".
- When Starfire is scared after Raven suggests checking the basement, she is depicted with a belly button.
- In the scene where Cyborg and Raven are the last two remaining, both of his eyes are human eyes. Although this may be an animation error, it is possibly intentional, as his usually robotic eye's pupil is colored red, so this may be for comedic effect.
- When Raven was washed out of the elevator by the black liquid, she was covered with it. But at the next scene, she was clean again.
- When Raven regains control over her powers, her eyes turn black instead of white.
- Before Control Freak animates the candy, Cyborg is seen fighting the same bookshelf Beast Boy was fighting instead of the drop box.
- When Raven banishes the monsters from her mind, a gigantic black pterodactyl manifests instead of a giant raven.
- After Cyborg blasts Control Freak's evil TV, Robin's hair isn't spiky like usual.
In popular culture
- In the Justice League Unlimited Season One episode: Wake the Dead, a DVD cover for the movie, Wicked Scary, can be seen in the college kid's room.
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